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Controversial Issues Regarding Plato's Biography
Matveichev Oleg Anatol'evich

PhD in Philosophy

professor of the Department of Philosophy at National Research University 'Higher School of Economics'

123007, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Myasnitskaya, 20, kab. 355





The subject of this research is the "white spots" in Plato's biography. Despite the thousand-year history of studying this subject, there are quite a few of these "spots". The author notes that the number of not only reliable but even merely available sources on the life of Plato is very small. This, however, never hindered biographers of the philosopher in constructing a complete and consistent picture of his life, filling-in gaps arbitrarily at their own will. One of the better-known facts of Plato's biography is his noble origins. Ancient authors traced Plato's family to the legendary king Codrus, and record Solon and Anacreon as among his relatives. In writing this article the author conducted a critical analysis of historical written sources, a hermeneutic analysis of the texts, as well as a comparative analysis. The study's novelty lies in the author's detailed analysis of the prosopography of the Codri and of the origins and family ties of Plato's ancestors, on the basis of which the author comes to the conclusion of the incorrectness of the unquestioned attribution of Plato to this ancient Athenian clan. The author also uncovered the philosopher's motives and methods of persuading his circle of his belonging to the aristocratic elite, as well as the problem of Plato's real name. Additionally, the author analyzes two hypotheses according to which the philosopher could either have chosen for himself the pseudonym of Plato in order to highlight the breadth of his word and thought, or, indeed, could have been called Plato from his birth. The legend of the Aristocles name was invented later, during the period of Hellenism. The author is certain that the reconstruction of Plato's biography has significant heuristic value and that this topic deserves further painstaking research.

Keywords: Ancient Greece, biography, Plato, prosopography, onomastics, Codri, origin, relatives, history of philosophy, genealogical tree



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